Executive Director – Friends of the River

Sacramento, California


Restoring natural river systems is critical to successfully adapt California’s water management to the new normal of drought and flood. Friends of the River protects and restores the rivers of California by influencing public policy and inspiring citizen action.

Friends of the River seeks to engage all California communities in protecting and restoring California rivers, to sustain life itself and provide the foundation for a water system that is just, resilient, sustainable and practical. Friends of the River works to advance 5 objectives that drive river restoration and protection;

  1. Hydropower Reform
  2. Saving & Storing water
  3. Restoring Flows
  4. Multi-Benefit Flood Management, and
  5. Legal-Regulatory Protection.

Executive Director:

Friends of the River seeks a passionate river advocate, a leader and team player with deep experience in California water policy, excellent coalition building skills, as well as technical water policy expertise. The position is full-time preferred. Part-time will be considered for the right candidate. The Executive Director actively leads FOR policy and advocacy, and is accountable for operations and fundraising. This position reports to the Chair of the Board of the Directors, and works closely with FOR staff, engaged board members, volunteers and advisors.

Duties and Responsibilities:

  • Lead FOR’s policy staff and volunteers by setting direction, prioritizing, and ensuring timely, effective, and impactful implementation of the policy and advocacy agenda. Facilitate alignment of policy and advocacy objectives across FOR board, staff and volunteers. The Senior Policy Advocate and the Policy Director report to the Executive Director.
  • Conduct policy analysis, prepare written and verbal policy positions, testimony and comments for public agencies. Lead policy staff and volunteers to conduct policy analysis, prepare written and verbal policy positions, testimony and comments for public agencies.
  • Participate in public processes to influence California water policy. Represent FOR to elected officials, legislative staff, government agencies, partners, community, and the media. Serve as an effective and visible spokesperson, effectively articulating the policy agenda, mission, vision, values and accomplishments.
  • Lead, convene, support and engage the public, river activists, and the California water/river NGO community to work collaboratively on protecting and restoring California rivers.
  • Ensure financial stability and growth by setting revenue, fundraising strategy, and overseeing fundraising operations. Establish and maintain personal, trusting and productive relationships with funders and major donors.
  • Support the Board of Directors and Board Committees ensuring that the Board has all necessary information and resources to conduct its business.


  • Bachelor’s degree and 5 or more years of experience working on water or environmental policy in California, with strong background in policy development and advocacy
  • Demonstrated passion for environmental, water, river, and watershed advocacy
  • Demonstrated commitment to social justice and equity
  • Demonstrated ability to create a culture of inclusion, empowerment, and high performance through personal leadership
  • Experience and demonstrated skills in organizing and campaign strategy
  • Experience producing policy analysis, briefs, white papers, testimony and comment letters
  • Excellent written, verbal communications and public speaking skills
  • Excellent personal, mobile and cloud-based technology skills, including office software
  • Excellent quantitative analytic skills, proficiency with excel and database analytics, experience with financial analysis
  • Flexible and positive outlook in the face of big challenges like the climate crisis, curious, independent with collaborative work style

Salary & Benefits:

  • Salary range is $95,000 to $115,000 depending on qualifications and years of experience.
  • Benefits include health, dental and vision insurance, 13 paid holidays, a generous vacation and sick time policy, and 3% Simple IRA matching


  • The job location is at the FOR offices in Sacramento.
  • Candidates will have the option to work from home or at the FOR office. Occasional travel to the Sacramento state capitol, and other locations throughout the state is required to meet the job objectives.

Application Process:

  • Please submit a cover letter and resume to janndorman@friendsoftheriver.org

Click here for more information.

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